Sir Jim Ratcliffe demands ‘real action’ to protect cyclists after horrific crashes

Jonas Vingegaard – Sir Jim Ratcliffe demands 'real action' to protect cyclists in open letter after series of horrific crashes
Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard suffered collapsed lung in horror crash - @willwrite4cake

Sir Jim Ratcliffe has called on cycling to urgently address safety issues after a series of horror crashes.

In an open letter to the International Cycling Union, the founder and chairman of team Ineos demanded “real action” ahead of the start of the Grand Tour season after a pile-up on stage four of the Itzulia Basque Country last week.

Jonas Vingegaard, the double Tour de France champion, sustained a broken collarbone and fractured ribs in the high-speed accident which forced him to leave the race on a stretcher requiring oxygen. The Dane has undergone successful surgery on his clavicle but faces a race against time to defend his crown this summer.

Six other riders were hospitalised after the mass crash that involved Remco Evenepoel and Primoz Roglic, while Australian rider Jay Vine was diagnosed with a fractured cervical vertebra and two fractures in his thoracic spine.

In a strongly worded letter, Ratcliffe, Manchester United’s part-owner, insisted last week’s incident should serve as a catalyst for change, drawing parallels with the transformational safety measures that have been introduced in Formula One.

“In Formula 1, when Ayrton Senna had his fatal crash 30 years ago in Italy, the governing body set out to transform the safety regulations of one of the world’s most dangerous sports and significantly reduced injuries as a result,” wrote Ratcliffe.

“This contrasts starkly with cycling where, until now, governing bodies have made very few changes and serious accidents are a common occurrence. As recently as last week, we had yet another horrific crash involving three of the world’s top cyclists, Jonas Vingegaard, Remco Evenepoel and Primoz Roglic. Jonas, who has won the last two Tour de France races, suffered multiple broken bones and was hospitalized.”

Ratcliffe went on to detail how two of his own riders, Chris Froome and Egan Bernal, were “lucky to be able to even get back on a bike” after suffering a fractured femur and a neck break respectively on training rides in recent years.

He added: “Cyclists are always going to push things to the limit as they are elite sportsmen and that is why action is so important. In June, the UCI announced the formation of SafeR, a specialist entity to oversee all aspects of cycling safety.

“For the first time, the sport will have a dedicated safety body whose sole concern is to make the sport safer, reducing the risks to riders and spectators whilst losing none of the thrill of racing. This is what Formula 1 has done so well over the past 30 years and I would hope that we will now see the same in cycling.”

Vingegaard’s crash in the Basque Country last week came just 10 days after his Visma-Lease teammate, Wout Van Aert, suffered a similiar fate at the Tour of Flanders.

Having lost two of his star riders in back-to-back crashes, Richard Plugge, the Visma-Lease general manager, reiterated calls for more stringent safety checks in professional cycling. “I’m tired of waiting,” he said. “The sooner the changes start, the better.”